SPONSORED STORY – Research has shown many types of accommodation in Australia are not accessible for people living with a physical disability, but one disability service provider is changing that by assisting people with disability to access the accessibility information they need.
As summer approaches and many people are looking to go on holiday, staying anywhere other than your own home can be daunting for a person with a physical disability.
Planning a holiday, respite or seeking an interim medium-term solution all require accurate information about how accessible the accommodation is, something Founder and Director of Accessible Accommodation, Kerry Williams, found to be critical for people with disability.
Common questions about whether a place is step-free or has appropriate shower access were often asked by Ms Williams when booking holidays for her mother, who is a wheelchair user.
Despite asking these questions, her mum still had to wash herself by hand on a holiday because the showers were not accessible despite being listed as such.
“When my mother turned to me and said ‘it’s okay, I will hand wash for the week,’ I thought, ‘this should never happen again!’” explains Ms Williams.
It sparked the idea of creating an online booking service that properly vetted accommodation options for accessibility and researched what people with a disability needed so consumers could trust they were making the right choice.
“Before launching the website, I conducted in depth focus groups to find out what other people with disabilities needed.
“I quickly came to realise no two disabilities are the same and no two accommodation accessible features are the same either, which is why there are over fifty frequently asked questions for every property on the website.”
Ms Williams said she began receiving positive feedback about her business after it went live and noticed she had made the lives of people with physical disabilities and their families easier.
“The very first comment for our first customer who booked told me ‘I haven’t had a holiday in 15 years since my accident. I thought my holiday times were over’,” she says.
Eighteen months after the launch of Accessible Accommodation, Ms Williams added a personalised booking service as a way for Support Coordinators to save time and money booking accommodation for their participants who have respite allowance (STA) in their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plans or require Medium Term Accommodation (MTA).
As photos of the bathrooms on hotel or other accommodation websites were scarce, making it hard for people to gauge whether potential accommodation was actually accessible, Accessible Accommodation also provides an extensive photo gallery and a video tour of all the listings on its website.
Accessible Accommodation has helped thousands of people find and book accessible accommodation with confidence and is available to any and all guests with mobility needs who need help finding appropriate accommodation from holiday rentals, hotels, resorts, houseboats and even glamping tents.
The booking service is staffed by people with disabilities and their family members who love to travel and know that accessibility can make or break a great getaway.
More and more new accommodation options are being added each week and Accessible Accommodation subscribers are updated via newsletter about the latest accommodation options, along with opportunities to win travel prizes each month.